The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension has garnered a large cult following over the years with many praising its all round strangeness. It’s a film which set out to become a much loved cult classic too, what with the crazy title, bizarre plot line, and a hero who is a neuro-surgeon crime fighting rock star who has a team (including Jeff Goldblum and Clancy Brown) who will follow him to the ends of the earth, and beyond that if necessary, but it disappoints on almost every level.
A convoluted opening blurb explains that Buckaroo’s a brilliant surgeon who quickly got bored of his life and so want on crazy adventures while learning martial arts, oh, and a bunch of aliens are nervously watching his every move too. The story then becomes even odder as he’s involved in the testing of a car that can go so fast that it leaps in to the eighth dimension, and Banzai brings something alien back with him, while those aliens above the earth try to help Banzai, as both evil villain John Lithgow and some rogue aliens are putting the world in danger.
For a film that has such a crazy plotline the one thing which surprises the most about Buckaroo Banzai is how boring large sections of it are. Every so often there’s a decent action scene or a funny moment involving Buckaroo, and the first third of the movie is certainly the most watchable, but a lot of the time it’s the characters standing around discussing what’s happening, the President of the United States being an arse, or the aliens (including an underused Christopher Lloyd) rambling away in an annoying manner.
There’s also a romantic subplot where Banzai meets Penny (Ellen Barkin), who’s the identical twin of his former wife who she knew nothing about, and the two barely spend any time together and lack chemistry. John Lithgow gives it his all as an insane type, giving Hitler-esque speeches to some bored looking aliens, and he certainly looks the part, but the dialogue he’s given is only vaguely bemusing the majority of the time. There’s a few jokes which work, the way all of the aliens take on the first name John and have increasingly odd surnames is amusing, Penny almost committing suicide at Banzai’s gig is strangely funny, and quite a few aliens are murdered in a casually brutal way which led to brief chuckling, but a lot of the time there’s just too much bland conversation taking place and so it becomes tedious to watch.
Even the ending disappoints with it feeling extremely anti-climatic, and despite everyone adoring him Peter Weller’s Buckaroo Banzai is a flat, very nothing-y creation. It’s a film which manages to waste a pretty damn impressive cast, and there’s so much filler if you edited the film down to only the interesting or exciting moments it’d probably be only about fifteen minutes long. I remember having fond feelings towards this when I watched it as a kid, but that only proves that once again my younger self was at best easily pleased, and at worst a fucking idiot.